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Holden VF Commodore SS V vs SS V Redline.

The SS V and SS V Redline might share the same engine and transmission, however, they behave differently out on the road. The Redline’s FE3 suspension has a noticeably firmer ride than the SS V’s more-supple, yet sporty FE2 setup.

The SS V’s softer FE2 suspension and more-relaxed steering tune provide the driver with a good sense of what the car is up to when pushed, but the ride is far more easy-going and livable for day-to-day duties. The SS V is a good mix of performance and comfort.

The Redline assures you on every bump that it’s a more performance-focused variant. Its uprated suspension components allow it to be punted faster through corners with more confidence, sitting flatter, making good use of its fatter rear hoops to grip and go. The Redline feels more direct with less body roll, but does so at the sacrifice of some ride comfort.

The Redline’s ‘sportier’ steering tune – which becomes even more responsive in Competitive Mode – also feels more communicative, making it easier to find the balance of the car. The latest VF V8′s are still nose-heavy despite shedding some kilos, but overall the VF chassis is more talkative and chuckable than the VE.

One feature performance nuts will appreciate is launch control (six-speed manual models only). While it could be forgiven as a bit of a gimmick, it works effectively. Select Competitive Mode, slot the shifter into first gear, engage the clutch, press the throttle to the floor twice and hold it down the second time, wait until the revs rest at around 4000rpm, drop the clutch, and away you go (see SS V Redline video below for our on-track demonstration).

Naturally, the Redline’s Brembo brakes offer superior pedal feel to the SS V’s regular Holden items, giving fade-resistant braking during our road test. The SS V’s brakes certainly feel more than up to the task, but the Redline’s extra bite and better pedal feel give you more confidence when trying to wipe off speed.

The Redline’s wider rear tyres (275-wide versus the SS V’s 245-wide) help it to grip up out of corners and launch better than the SS V. But is more traction something punters want? Both cars are eager to set the rear tyres alight if provoked, so don’t stress.

Rowing through the meaty-feeling six-speed gearbox provides great thrills in both cars. The clutch’s long throw and chunky gear shift reminds you of the engine’s large and beefy displacement. The sound as the engine spins the tacho’ needle also becomes quite addictive – flat out in any gear plays a tune that’s good enough to turn a smile into a cheeky grin.

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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